Graduate Associates

Inigo Chotirawe Acosta


Inigo Acosta (he/him) is a doctoral student in cultural anthropology and Southeast Asian studies. Originally from Thailand and the Philippines, his research interests encompass plantation economies and agricultural systems in Mindanao, Philippines. He has a particular interest in differing cultural perspectives and valuations of land as an item of exchange. During his master’s degree studies, he used an ethnohistory framework to evaluate the impact of the 100-year-old Del Monte pineapple plantation in Bukidnon through qualitative interviews with former Del Monte employees and native/Indigenous inhabitants of the province.

He received a BA in international relations from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and an MA in anthropology as a George Washington Presidential Fellow.

Taimur Ahmad

Community and Environmental Sociology

Taimur Ahmad is a PhD student in community and environmental sociology. His research focuses on how diverse communities find common ground around nature.

This research is centered on the small town of Bishop, California, where Indigenous peoples, cowboys, and climbers all share strong, sometimes diverging, sometimes overlapping connections to the same mountain landscape.

Originally from New York City, before coming to UW–Madison Ahmad worked as an environmental policy analyst in Washington, D.C., explored the Sierra Nevada as a sponsored rock climber and search and rescue team leader, and built an equity and inclusion program for a small environmental nonprofit.

Kathleen Alfin


Kathleen Alfin is a graduate student in the history department focusing on African history. Her primary research interests revolve around Liberian-U.S. military relations during the early 20th century, in particularly during the First and Second World Wars.

In addition to African history, she is also interested in environmental history, especially the influence that militaries and warfare have had on the environment.

She has a bachelor of arts in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master of science in international relations with a concentration in regional studies of Africa and the Middle East from Troy State University.

Murilo Alves Zacareli

Environment and Resources

Murilo Alves Zacareli is pursuing a doctoral degree in environment and resources at the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. His research looks at Native and non-Native engagements with fossil fuel developments in the Upper Midwest, as well as science and technology issues by addressing social and environmental injustices linked to oil pipelines in the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Murilo’s research interests include Native and non-Native grassroots movements, social and environmental justice, science and technology, fossil fuel developments, social-ecological systems, collective action, natural resources use and management, ecology of watersheds and wetlands, wild rice lakes, regulation and governance.

Tessa Archambault


Tessa Archambault is a PhD student in French literature at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research interests include ecocritical readings of French and Francophone film, novels, and theatre. She focuses on analyses of works from both the postcolonial and late colonial era while drawing connections to contemporary literature and film. Her dissertation deals with how colonialism has shaped dominant perceptions of nature in the French-speaking world and the ways in which literature and narrative unsettle or question those perceptions. She draws on critical theory from a range of disciplines including feminist studies, postcolonial and decolonial theory, political science and sociology.

Tessa holds a BA in French and theatre from the University of Minnesota and a MA in French literature from UW-Madison. Additional professional interests include teaching French as a second language as well as literature/culture-centered foreign language learning.

Abby Armstrong Check

Art History

Abby Armstrong Check (she/her/hers) is a PhD student in the art history department. Her research focuses mostly on the study of religious architecture, urbanism, and the medieval built environment of western Europe and the Mediterranean of the 11th to 16th century. She is also interested in issues of patronage, gender studies, prosopography, and the material culture of the medieval world.

Abby earned her MA in art history and criticism from UW-Milwaukee. She also holds a BS in EAA English education, BA in art history, and holds a lifetime Wisconsin educator license for high school English education.

Aida Arosoaie

Cultural Anthropology

Aida is a PhD student in cultural anthropology at UW-Madison and her key research interest is the relation between religion and the production of spaces and landscapes in Southeast Asia, with a focus on Indonesia.

Aida holds a BA in politics and Hindi from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and a MSc in strategic studies from Nanyang Technological University Singapore (NTU). She is interested in photography and is committed to being a socially responsible scholar.

Alicia Barceinas Cruz

Environment and Resources

Alicia Barceinas Cruz is a PhD student in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the Department of Geography. She holds a BS in biology from the National Autonomous University of Mexico and a master of public policy from the University of Chicago. Alicia has worked as a conservation biologist in the Lacandona region in Southeast Mexico since 2010. Her research interrogates the narratives governing the construction of the Mexico-Guatemala border. In the context of the Lacandona region, Alicia is particularly interested in how everyday compliances and transgressions to the border shape landscapes of (im)mobility and (in)security for humans and non-humans.

Natalie Belew


Natalie Belew (she/her) is a graduate student in the history department studying modern Chinese environmental history. Her research interests include national park development in the Sino-Tibetan borderlands, histories of conservation and exploration, and the commodification of minority populations and non-human environments in the 20th century development of China’s tourism industry.

She has a BA in history and Chinese studies from Trinity University, and an MA in climate and society from Columbia University.

Adrián Bermúdez Pérez

Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies

Adrián Bermúdez Pérez (he/him) is a master’s student in the Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies program. His broader research interests revolve around the environmental history of hurricanes in the Caribbean. More specifically, the intersections of race and the environment through this history of hurricanes in Puerto Rico. For his MA thesis, Adrián will focus on a historical and comparative analysis of the ways that hurricanes have affected the social, political, and economic realities in the history of Puerto Rico.

Adrián was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He completed his bachelor’s in history, economics, and international studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Kristen Billings

Community and Environmental Sociology

Kristen Billings (she/her/hers) is a PhD student in the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology. Her current research investigates the environmental impacts of militarism and situates resistance to U.S. military pollution and occupation within anti-imperial and abolitionist struggles. More broadly, her research interests include state violence, migrant justice, climate colonialism, and environmental narratives. Prior to starting graduate school, she worked as a communications associate for an immigration advocacy nonprofit in New York.

Elena Bird


Elena Bird is a master’s student in the agroecology program. They are interested in alternative agroecological economies that persevere and emerge in the face of agricultural consolidation.

Elena’s research builds off of three years of organic vegetable farming, a year-long fellowship studying water-oriented and agroecological social movements in Israel-Palestine, and a lifetime of eating tomatoes off their dad’s plants. They earned their BA from Dartmouth College in environmental earth sciences and Middle Eastern studies.

Nisha Atalie Bolsey

Literary Studies

Nisha Atalie is a graduate student in literary studies. Prior to coming to UW Madison, she received an MFA from Columbia College Chicago in poetry. Her research interests lie at the intersection of race, colonialism, and ecology, specifically in how racial capitalism shapes representations of nature and the non-human world in American literature.

Danielle Burke

Design Studies

Danielle (Dani) Burke is an artist and folklorist. She studies textiles, craft pedagogy, and artist communities; her studio practice focuses primarily on the structure and storytelling potential of woven cloth. She is a PhD student in design studies (history) within the School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Jimmy Camacho

Planning and Landscape Architecture

Jimmy Taitano Camacho is a graduate student pursuing a PhD in land policy and Indigenous methodologies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is particularly interested in understanding how Indigenous peoples across Oceania are resisting, struggling with, and decolonizing dominant property regimes and institutions.

His dissertation examines the Chamorro Land Trust (CLT), an institution created by I Liheslaturan Guåhan (the Guam Legislature). Enacted in 1975, the CLT’s purpose is to return tano (land) to Chamorros — the Indigenous people of Guåhan (Guam) — and ensure they have tano in Guåhan forever. Jimmy’s work grapples with the imposition and circumstances of United States colonialism and militarism across Oceania and in Guåhan, one of the few remaining colonies in the world that is recognized by the United Nations.

He draws on the field of critical Indigenous studies, feminist and queer theory, and Indigenous planning, an emerging and distinct scholarly discipline and practice.

Tracy Campbell


Tracy Campbell (she/her/hers) is a PhD candidate in the Department of Agronomy, where her research focuses on the intersection of land management, climate change, and water quality within agroecosystems. Through her work, Tracy incorporates both ecosystem modeling and fieldwork to evaluate management strategies for improved groundwater quality across the Wisconsin Central Sands region of the state. Broadly, Tracy is interested in exploring how we can transform our current system of agriculture to further promote an array of ecosystem services. Tracy holds a BS in biology from the University of Missouri, Columbia, and an MS in agroecology from UW-Madison.

John Canfield


John Canfield is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology. He is interested in issues ranging from agriculture to conservation. His research has explored the role of corporate forms and financialization in the rise of industrial agriculture. Currently, he is exploring the community responses to a rewilding initiative in rural Montana. He is also analyzing the power structures in the corporate network of industrial hog production. Prior to Wisconsin, he received a BA in philosophy and environmental studies from Sewanee: The University of the South and an MS in rural sociology from Auburn University.

Sheamus Cavanaugh

Environment and Resources

Sheamus Cavanaugh is a PhD student in the Nelson Institute working with Dr. Larry Nesper in the Department of Anthropology. His main research interests are Native American treaty rights in the Great Lakes region, environmental anthropology, political ecology, agricultural cooperatives, and development.

He currently works at the Farley Center for Peace, Justice and Sustainability at their Farm Incubator serving primarily minority and immigrant farmers. He also works with the Intertribal Maple Syrup Producers Cooperative, a group of Native American maple producers interested in providing technical assistance to beginning, small, and large producers, while addressing issues such as barriers to land access and sustainable harvesting methods.

Marina Cavichiolo Grochocki

Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies

Marina received her BA in Latin in 2018 and her MA in letters in 2019, both from the Federal University of Paraná in Brazil. She is now a graduate student in the classical and ancient Near Eastern studies department. Her research focuses on bucolic landscape in ancient literature and its changes in different authors.

Leo Kin-Chong Chao

Human Ecology and Sociology

Leo Kin-Chong Chao is a PhD student in human ecology (civil society and community research) and sociology. He studies the environmental justice movements in East Asia, with a particular focus on Hong Kong and Taiwan. In doing so, he investigates the political and historical process of environmental injustice, as well as the community mobilization for environmental justice movements in the twentieth century in this region. He draws on insights from the literature on political ecology, political economy, postcolonialism, and social movement.

Minseo Cho


Coming from South Korea, Minseo Cho (he/him/his) is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology. His broad interests concern the historical transformation of the welfare state in the Anthropocene, the era when the ecological limit of the regime of social security coupled with a capitalist economic growth is increasingly manifested. Specifically, he is investigating the knowledge politics over how to define, identify, and measure the efficacy of the universal basic income in policy experiment laboratories. In addition to this, he is working on a project about how ecological risks (dubbed as “Green Swan”) are represented, evaluated, and translated in financial markets.

Dylan Couch

Literary  Studies

Dylan Couch is a first-year literary studies graduate student interested in the environmental humanities. Much of his research to date takes a look at the relationship between colonialism and plants and uses climate fiction as a vehicle for reimagining human/land relations.

Doron Darnov


Doron Darnov is a graduate student in the English department. His primary research focuses on “planetary humanities” — the intersection of astronomy, space travel, and environmental justice. When not watching rockets leave orbit, he also enjoys watching baseballs leave orbit (especially during Red Sox games).

Jagravi Dave

Literary Studies

Jagravi Dave (she/they) is a graduate student in the literary studies PhD program in the English department. Her research interests include contemporary poetry and poetics, environmental humanities, new materialisms, de/postcolonial studies, black studies, and Indigenous studies. Jagravi holds an MA in the humanities from the University of Chicago and a BA in English and linguistics.

Thi Le Thu Dinh


Thi Le Thu Dinh (she/her/hers) is a doctoral student in people-environment geography at UW–Madison. Coming from Vietnam, she is interested in development and environmental studies in Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries. She is also interested in ethnic minorities, particularly their migration to urban areas. She received a BA in geography from Hanoi National University of Education (HNUE), Vietnam, and an MA in geography from Seoul National University (SNU), South Korea.

Tess Durham


Tess Durham is a master’s student of psychoactive pharmaceutical investigations. She works in the Center for Sleep and Consciousness and volunteers in the Raison Lab for psychedelic research. Her background is in neuroscience and philosophy from Fordham University. She aspires to act as a bridge to introduce Indigenous voices into conversations around psychedelic medicines for recreational use and scientific research.

Ana Fochesatto

Environment and Resources

Ana Fochesatto is a PhD student in the Environment and Resources Program at the Nelson Institute and a research assistant in Dr. Adena Rissman’s People, Institutions, and Ecosystems (PIE) Lab. Ana’s research interests lie at the intersection of food, identity, and justice. She is currently researching stakeholder perspectives and policy for transitioning to a just and equitable grass-based farm system in the Midwest. She holds a BA in anthropology and political science and an MA in anthropology with a concentration in community and economic development.

Juan C. Franco


Juan C. Franco is a Colombian historian who is completing a PhD in Latin American history at UW-Madison. He is interested in development and post-development issues specifically related to rural development.

Jesse Gant


Jesse Gant is a PhD candidate in the Department of History — his interests are in 19th century United States politics and culture, with specialities in African American and Western history. His dissertation looks at the role western black activists had in the making of the Republican Party during the 1850s and 1860s.

In 2013, he published Wheel Fever: How Wisconsin Became a Great Bicycling State, which examined the early origins of bicycling in the Badger State during the last half of the 19th century. An exhibit based on the book can be found on permanent display at Old World Wisconsin. An additional exhibit inspired by the book called “Shifting Gears: A Cyclical History of Bicycling in the Badger State” opened in Madison and Appleton in 2015.

Lauren Gerlowski


Lauren Gerlowski is a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography. Lauren has her BA in global cultural studies, BFA in dance from Point Park University (2018) in Pittsburgh, and MS in geography from UW-Madison (2021). Lauren has performed a multitude of works in a variety of dance genres including modern, contemporary ballet, tap, jazz, and improvisation. She conducts research that investigates the relationship between artists, the political economy, and urbanities to understand where and how dancers aid in the process of placemaking global cities.

Kuhelika Ghosh


Kuhelika Ghosh is a literary studies PhD student in the English department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She completed her undergraduate study at UCLA and her honors thesis examined the potential ethics and politics of the cosmopolitan subject in a posthuman narrative. Her current research interests lie in the intersection of postcolonial literature and the environmental humanities, particularly considering the idea of posthumanism in the Anthropocene through an affective lens.

Nicholas Green

Environment and Resources

Nicholas Green is interested in research and outreach to Christian communities, especially those within evangelical circles. His background is in environmental education and outdoor programs. Specifically, he is interested in the way experiences and participation in camps and service trips (mission trips) impacts attitudes toward the environment and environmental justice issues. His hope is to serve as a bridge between the sciences and Christian communities.

Carly Griffith


Carly Griffith is a geography PhD student and researches property law and inheritance practice in the rural Upper Midwest and Northern Great Plains. She is an editor for Edge Effects and leads a graduate writers’ group through CHE. She holds an MA in public humanities from Brown University and most recently worked at the Center for Cultural Landscapes at the University of Virginia.

Laura Grotjan

Art History

Laura Grotjan is a PhD student in the art history department. Her research focuses mainly on Midwestern vernacular architecture, the history of agricultural buildings, and the illustration of domesticated animals. She is interested in issues of obsolescence and preservation, and her MA thesis explores how these topics relate to agricultural landscapes. In addition to an MA in art history, Laura holds a bachelor of fine arts degree. She is a practicing artist who works primarily in oil paint.

Hilary Habeck Hunt

Environment and Resources

Hilary Habeck Hunt (she/her) is a PhD student in the Nelson Institute’s Environment and Resources Program. Drawing on nearly a decade of experience in environmental conservation nonprofits, primarily within the land trust movement, her dissertation investigates the practice of collectivist land conservation as a subset of the larger land conservation movement, highlighting its potential to address the movement’s normative overarching goal of biodiversity protection while also improving social outcomes including social cohesion, culture, wellbeing, income, health, and safety.

Her research is conducted from an engaged scholarship perspective, with a critical lens toward the ways in which conventional land conservation frameworks have re-inscribed land theft, white supremacy, and other injustices.

Ryan Hellenbrand

Environment and Resources

Ryan Hellenbrand is a master’s student in the Nelson Institute’s Environment and Resources Program. His research examines the evolution of cultures of stewardship in the unique contexts of Wisconsin, specifically the intersecting cultural histories of forest management in Native American nations and the German development of scientific forestry. Ryan believes that understanding how myths, stories, and place-based knowledge intersect in the landscape can lead to a more equitable and sustainable natural resource management in a future shaped by climate change.

Elliot Hendry

Freshwater and Marine Sciences

Elliot loves wetlands, and as graduate student he is studying how wetlands of the Upper Midwest respond to changes in climate and fire. Elliot is interested in using both contemporary and paleo-ecological data to tell compelling natural history stories and to help guide ecological restoration practices. Elliot’s involvement with CHE derives from his love of both oral and written communication and the significance communication plays in challenging people to enjoy critical thinking and enabling people to think ecologically.

Luke A. Hingtgen


Luke A Hingtgen is a PhD student in the Department of Geography at UW–Madison. He is broadly interested in political ecology, geographical political economy, aesthetics, settler colonialism, agroecology, Marxism, and much more. His current research investigates the role of American Plains bison restoration and development projects in settler and indigenous political economies and ecologies, and the spatial logics and contradictions of bison in private property regimes and capitalist production.

Tyler Hook

Educational Policy Studies, Cultural Anthropology

Tyler Hook is a joint doctoral candidate in educational policy studies and cultural anthropology. His research examines the intersections of race/racism, capitalism, and social development. He holds a BA in history, political science, and religion from Hope College, an MSc in Africa and international development from the University of Edinburgh, and an MA in international educational development from the University of Pennsylvania.

A 2022 National Academy of Education (NAEd)/Spencer Dissertation Fellow, his research has been supported by a Wenner-Gren Dissertation Fieldwork Grant, a Social Science Research Council International Dissertation Research Fellowship, and the Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad (DDRA) Fellowship Program.

Addie Hopes


Addie Hopes is a PhD candidate in English at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and managing editor of Edge Effects. When she’s not writing a dissertation about documentary ecopoetry, she’s thinking about queer and feminist approaches to mermaids and speculative multispecies worlds. She holds an MFA in fiction from Brooklyn College, CUNY, and an MA in English from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Emery Jenson


Emery Jenson is a PhD student in literary studies at UW-Madison. Since graduating from Duke University in 2018, his research has focused on the philosophy of biology, scale and affect within the Anthropocene, and animal studies. He has recently been preoccupied with pigeons, specifically how pigeon biology, behavior, and cultural reception characterizes and collapses the binary logic that filters Western relationships with the environment.

Benjamin C.H. Kao


Benjamin C.H. Kao is a Brazilian-Taiwanese graduate student in geography at UW–Madison who is interested in how popular culture terrains, such as video game worlds, can hone attentiveness to our socio-cultural milieu. His undergraduate dissertation (thesis) explored how we could reimagine conceptions of sustainability through conversation with/in The Sims 4. He is interested in further work with/in intersections between environmental studies and digital spaces. Before coming to UW–Madison, he completed his undergraduate studies in social anthropology and sustainable development from the University of St Andrews in Scotland.

Christopher Cañete Rodriguez Kelly


Christopher Cañete Rodriguez Kelly is a PhD student in literary studies. Though previously interested in psychoanalytic theories of anxiety in relation to the development of the United States, Christopher’s more recent research takes a critical look at media ecology, and the attendant shift in the sensorium endemic to network interaction. Though situated within media studies, this interdisciplinary work necessarily interrogates new and shifting delimitations of geographical space through network technology, asking what is gained and what is lost in our increasingly interconnected world.

Ellie Kincaid

Literary Studies

Ellie Kincaid is a PhD student in English literary studies from North Carolina. They grew up in Chapel Hill, got their BA at Davidson College, and then taught high school English in Chattanooga, Tennessee, before moving to Wisconsin to pursue their PhD. They are interested in studying queer ecologies, inspired by a love of being queer and being outside.

Erin Kitchell


I am a graduate student in the geography department studying environment and development in West Africa. My current research focuses on histories of environmental change, the multiple vulnerabilities of small-scale producers, and the ways in which social networks shape knowledge formation about climatic variability. I will work closely with faculty in the Nelson Institute, agroecology, and community and environmental sociology.

I have a BA in history and a background in community-based programming for non-profits. My past experience includes working to integrate environmental education in public school programming, managing public health and land use planning campaigns in peri-urban Mali, and creating training curricula on gender and development issues.

Tania Kolarik

Art History

Tania Kolarik is a PhD candidate in the Department of Art History. Her dissertation, “Clothing the Commune: The Culture of Textiles in the Long Fourteenth Century,” examines the central role of textiles, especially Islamic, Byzantine, Mongol, and Italian textiles on the urban environments of the Italian Trecento. She is also interested in the socioeconomic impact of the medieval textile trade, reception, gender, and classism. Tania holds a BS in biomedical science with a minor in art and architectural history from Texas A&M University, and an MA in art history with a Roman history minor from the University of North Texas.

Liz Anna Kozik

Environment and Resources

Liz Anna Kozik is a PhD student in environment and resources at the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. She utilizes comics to tell stories of the Midwestern tallgrass prairie through its ecology, history, and ecological restoration. Her work ties a background in the arts (BFA Rhode Island School of Design 2011, MFA UW-Madison 2017) to academic research in the science, history, and culture of prairie restoration. She currently operates The Image Lab at the Wisconsin Institute of Discovery, focusing on environmental education, science communication, and arts-as-research.

Kelly Krainak


Kelly Krainak is PhD student in the School of Nursing. She is a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner and artist from West Virginia. Her recent project, Weight Support: Implementing Feminist Therapy for a Women’s Group, centered on an evaluation of Western, androcentric attitudes of femininity/image in order to re-contextualize underlying pathologies of disordered eating. Research interests include climate mitigation and the compounding impacts of topography, mining, flooding, and preexisting multi-disparity indices among West Virginians. Krainak received her doctor of nursing practice degree from the University of Illinois–Chicago and her master of fine arts degree in painting from West Virginia University.

Alexander Kris

Literary Studies

Alex Kris is a PhD student in literary studies. His research lies at the intersection of the environmental humanities, literary studies, and disability studies, exploring the ways that contemporary American novels, especially science fiction novels, narrativize the imbrication of human and nonhuman body-minds with physical, and social, space. He received an MA in modern and contemporary literature and culture from the University of York, and a BA in creative writing from the University of Arizona.

Marisa Lanker

Environment and Resources

Marisa Lanker is a PhD student in the Nelson Institute’s Environment and Resources Program. Her research interests include perennial and polyculture farming, social justice, biocultural diversity, indigenous ways of knowing, food sovereignty, multispecies narratives, decolonial agricultural movements, and participatory methods.

Currently, her blossoming research turns an eye to smallholder farmers in Guatemala, examining how differing narratives of indigeneity connect to distinct formations of agrobiodiversity and, in turn, inform food sovereignty outcomes. She holds an MS in agroecology from University of Wisconsin-Madison and a BA in international development from Ohio State University. When not researching, she is laughing or dancing or both.

Rebecca Laurent

Sociology, Community and Environmental Sociology

Rebecca Laurent (she/her/hers) is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology and Community and Environmental Sociology. Rebecca’s work is focused on environmental politics and (in)justice. In particular, she is interested in barriers to effective mitigation of the climate crisis, including the entanglement between oil and state, cultural hegemony of fossil fuels, and repression of environmental activism. Rebecca obtained a master’s degree in 2021 in natural resources and environmental sciences from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Her master’s thesis analyzed the criminalization of anti-pipeline protest in the United States and its effect on policing and resistance in southern Louisiana.

Laura Lawler


Laura is a PhD student in people-environment geography, studying political ecology, environmental governance, and agricultural systems. She received her MS in geography from UW-Madison in 2016 and BA from Sarah Lawrence College in 2008. Her master’s thesis was on agricultural entrepreneurial training for refugees resettling in the U.S., exploring questions about how “good” farming and farmers are enacted in these programs and resistance and diverse economies livelihood strategies among refugee farmers.

Her current research is on “climate smart” narratives and agriculture programming in East Africa. What counts as “climate smart,” why, and how do these impact farmers? She is also working on a collaborative interdisciplinary project in Uganda, “Mapping Hotspots: ‘One Health’ and the History of Infectious Disease Research.”

Ben Lebowitz

Environment and Resources

Ben is a first-year student within the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies’ Environment and Resources MS Program. He received his undergraduate education from UW-Madison, double majoring in environmental studies and agricultural/applied economics. Ben’s studies combine history, economics, and ecology to better understand the intersection of human and environmental welfare in relation to water scarcity.

Jessica LeClair

Nursing, Nelson Institute

Jessica LeClair, MPH, RN, is a PhD student and clinical faculty member with the UW-Madison School of Nursing and holds an affiliate appointment with the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. LeClair co-chairs the Sustainable Madison Committee for the City of Madison, and previously worked as a public health nurse for Public Health Madison and Dane County. Her research interest explores nursing strategies that promote environmental justice in the context of planetary health.

Tristian Lee


Tristian Lee is a second-year PhD student in sociology in the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology. His work focuses on the social effects of urban agriculture and the transformative potential of people — young, queer, women, people of color (POC) — working in urban agriculture. His broad research interests include food systems, culture, taste, race, class, cities, and pastoral narratives.

He graduated from the University of Toronto with an HBA in literature and critical theory (specialist) and a minor in Italian. He also completed a master’s degree in comparative literature at the University of Toronto.

Zhe Yu Lee


Zhe Yu Lee is a second-year MS student in the Department of Geography. His master’s research looks at the current politics of implementation around forest and land tenure policies in Indonesian province of North Sumatra, especially as it relates to the (un)changing nature of the forest and environment bureaucracies of the Indonesian state.

He has broader longer-term interests in historicizing the dominance of technocratic approaches in contemporary global environmental governance. In part, this entails exploring the relationship between the scientization of knowledges with regard to tropical agriculture, tropical forests and “the economy” during the early Cold War and Third World visions of nation-building and international order.

His primary theoretical interests include science and technology studies, political ecology, global environmental history, critical policy studies, critical international relations and critical development studies. He received his BA from Macalester College in 2015 with majors in geography and environmental studies.

Elijah S. Levine

Literary Studies

Elijah Levine is a PhD student in literary studies researching black cultural production, particularly literature, music, and film, in the second half of the 20th century. He is interested in how black cultural producers and audiences articulated historically and environmentally contingent versions of blackness. His work mines both popular and local artistic movements of the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s to trace their particular aesthetic, historical, and geographical character.

Chris Lewis

Environment and Resources

Chris Lewis (he/him) is a PhD student in the Nelson Institute’s environment and resources program. His research is focused on managing the impacts of climate change on smallholder agriculture in Guatemala. Before starting his PhD studies, he worked for multilateral development organizations, as a freelance journalist, and as a Spanish-immersion preschool teacher. He holds a BA in economics from American University, and a master’s of environmental management from the Yale School of the Environment.

Juniper Lewis


Juniper Lewis is a doctoral student in anthropology. Juniper’s research will explore the relationship between humans and the environment by examining ecotheology in action, that is, how modern Christian congregations relate to and interact with the environment in the United States. This research will be influenced not only by early Christian relations to the environment and ideas of wilderness but also by a look at the variation of these relations across Abrahamic religions as well as shifting American values of the environment and wilderness. These influences will allow for a nuanced look into modern ecotheology among Christians and provide a firm background on the subject.

Yifei Liu

Agricultural and Applied Economics

Yifei Liu is a fourth-year PhD student in the field of environmental and energy economics. Her projects revolve around the integration of renewable energy, electricity market design, and electric infrastructure investment. Applying economic analysis, she actively contributes to multidisciplinary environmental research. Beyond academia, Yifei finds balance in bridge, documentaries, and hiking.

Weishun Lu


Weishun Lu is a PhD candidate in the English department (literary studies). Her research interests are contemporary American poetry and performance, critical race studies, and affect theory. She examines how poets of color diverge from sentimental narratives in engaging racial injustice in the U.S. In addition, her research explores how comedy re-routes activist affects. Lu also serves on the editorial board of Edge Effects, and she is particularly interested in the intersection between environmental justice and racial justice.

Sabrina Manero


Sabrina is a literary studies PhD student in the English department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Having been involved in animal education from a young age at both the Bruce Museum and the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk, she aims to continue exploring conservation education.

Since completing her BA in English at Tufts University in 2018, her research has been centered on theories of species extinction and evolution in the 19th century. She is currently interested in how public perception and understanding of conservation biology rhetoric impacts the potentiality of conservation efforts.

Cathleen McCluskey


Cathleen McCluskey is a master’s student in the agroecology program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is developing tools to advance farmer-centric seed systems that are democratic, economically and environmentally sound, and driven by public plant breeding. Her interests include public policy, intellectual property rights, industry concentration, and public plant breeding systems.

Her research focuses on agrobiodiversity and the importance of defining and monitoring germplasm resources using an applied agroecological framework. She finds her on-campus intellectual community among her fellow multidisciplinary students in the agroecology community.

Tamara McLean


Tamara McLean is an interdisciplinary artist, award-winning graphic designer, educator, and researcher who rethinks the role of visual communication in the built environment.

Siddharth Menon


Siddharth Menon is a critical architect and human geographer of the built environment. His dissertation research looks at an ethnography of concrete as a building construction material in peri-urban Kochi, Kerala to highlight the macro and micro processes through which concrete is becoming a dominant and ubiquitous building material across rural and peri-urban India. Siddharth is also affiliated with the Center for South Asia and the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies.

Bri Meyer


Bri Meyer earned her BA in anthropology and English from Augustana College in 2017. She is currently a PhD student in cultural anthropology at UW-Madison with a minor in CHE, working on co-species ethnography in the American Saddlebred show horse community, of which she has been a lifelong member. Her specific research interests in this area include multi-species, multi-sensory language, collaborative movement, and embodiment. She is also extremely invested in discussions on the theory of ethnographic writing, and how the “genre” of ethnography relates to and differs from other genres of literature.

Allyson Mills

Environment and Resources

Allyson Mills is pursuing an MS in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies environment and resources program. Allyson studies human-animal relations within wildlife care centers through the lens of multispecies and feminist care ethics. She enjoys teaching environmental humanities and the importance of storytelling in science and environmental outreach.

She holds a BA (comprehensive honors) from UW-Madison in English and voice performance with certificates in leadership and environmental studies, previously worked at Wisconsin Sea Grant, and received the 2023 Conservation and Sustainability Bucky Award. Other interests include ecopoetry, environmental justice, and conveying environmental dialogue through her visual art practice.

Marino Miranda Noriega

Curriculum and Instruction

Marino Miranda Noriega is a PhD student in curriculum and instruction focusing on curriculum and global studies. Broadly, he studies how schools and educational knowledge become a way of producing populations as problematic.

He holds an MS in educational research from the Centro de Investigación y Estudios Avanzados (Cinvestav), where he researched how statistical knowledge and education politics were instrumental for the rise of illiteracy as a social problem in Mexico. His new project focuses on how ideas around landscape, environments, and nature produced the city and the country as problematic sites of education in the U.S. and Mexico.

Rudy Molinek


Rudy Molinek is a PhD student in the Department of Geoscience, where his research focuses on reconstructing ancient sea level change. Further, he’s interested in pursuing the following questions about how we relate to the world beneath our feet: How do landscapes formed over geologic time scales shape us, our cultures, and our societies? How are we now shaping those landscapes in return? How can we enhance the public understanding of this relationship? He holds a BA in geology from Carleton College and an MS in earth sciences from the University of Minnesota, and previously spent several years teaching first through fourth grade in Missoula, Montana.

Kaitlin Moore


Kaitlin Moore (they/them) is a third-year PhD student in literary studies and a Kohler Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery. Their interdisciplinary work is situated within the environmental humanities, with particular emphasis placed on using cosmology and quantum mechanics as inquiries into literary practices that actively destabilize the static, bordered, and linear framings that typify anthropocentric studies of space and time.

Samm Newton


After several years as an environmental professional and educator, Samm earned an MA from Oregon State University through the environmental arts and humanities program. As an NSF fellow there, she also minored in risk and uncertainty quantification and communication in marine systems.

She is currently a first-year PhD student in the history of science, medicine, and technology. Her work focuses on coupled marine-human systems, specifically the relationships between science and technology, petrochemical culture, and slow violence in contemporary history.

Samm is an artist in addition to her work at UW-Madison and hopes to blend her scholarly and creative practices.

Travis Olson

Art History

Travis Olson is a PhD student in the Department of Art History’s buildings-landscapes-cultures program interested in material culture, the built environment, and a specialization in American vernacular landscapes. He is focused on the myriad ways that humans shape their environment and that the environment shapes human experience. Research interests include the architectural history of agricultural landscapes and the architecture of leisure and recreation, including the parks movement, resort culture, summer camps, and country estates.

Molli Pauliot


Molli Pauliot, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation Buffalo Clan, is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology; she has professional experience on collaborative projects with tribal, county, state, and federal officials in Wisconsin. Pauliot is dedicated to her ancestral homelands, as reflected in her research and community work.

Pauliot’s dissertation research is a community collaborative project with the Ho-Chunk Nation DNR, the Ho-Chunk black ash basket weavers, and the Little Eagles Art Foundation. Pauliot has published an essay, “Ho-Chunk People of the Sacred Voice,” in Tom Jones’s book, “Here We Stand.”

Amani Ponnaganti


Amani Ponnaganti is a graduate student in geography at UW–Madison. Grounded in feminist, postcolonial, and critical race thinking; her scholarship examines how power, place, and identity relate to questions of law and development. Currently, she is interested in exploring the ways that empire and race shape environmental management in global cities, from a historical perspective.

Her writing received awards from the American Association of Geographers (AAG) Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group and the AAG Political Geography Specialty Group. She holds a BA LLB (honors) (JD equivalent) from the National Academy of Legal Studies and Research in India.

Amanda Pratt


Amanda’s research is informed by her academic background in physical geography, environmental science, and writing. Her research trajectory is aimed at better understanding the rhetorical and ethical landscape of psychedelics within and without officially sanctioned western science.

To this end, she collaborates with a group of interdisciplinary researchers and stakeholders to understand the expanding relevance of psychedelics in clinical, political, and economic contexts — while also intervening to center reciprocity with indigenous psychedelic cultures; support indigenous survivance, preservation, and self-determination; and advocate for the preservation of biodiversity upon which these cultures (and psychedelic compounds) rely.

Vignesh Ramachandran


Vignesh Ramachandran (he/him) is a graduate student in the geography department researching the platform economy, carceral/abolition geographies, and the history of management and technology. He is interested in how working-class immigrants, in their organizing for better social and economic lives in the city, reimagine environmental justice and (police/prison/border) abolition. His work navigates archival documents from the second industrial revolution and ongoing long-term community based ethnography and oral history in New York City.

Prerna Rana

Civil Society and Community Research

Prerna Rana (she/her/hers) is a PhD student in the Civil Society and Community Research program (School of Human Ecology). Her research interests center around the intersecting themes of gender empowerment, community development, and food justice in rural India. She is interested in understanding the community perspectives that shape current practices in rural food systems and the ways in which collective action can create systemic change.

Before coming to UW-Madison, Prerna worked with grassroots community institutions in rural regions of eastern and central India. Her work comprised planning, implementation, and evaluation of projects related to financial inclusion, sustainable agriculture, and institution development.

Johs Rasmussen


Johs Rasmussen is a PhD student in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s English department. Broadly defined, his research explores reading practices in contemporary reading communities (both domestic and transnational) that self-identify as conservative or right-wing. His methodological and theoretical outlook comprises archival research, cultural sociology, postwar social philosophy from Germany (especially the third-wave Frankfurt School), and ethnography, as well as modes of investigation that are more firmly rooted in the discipline of literary studies. He wants to bring his burgeoning interest in environmental changes and ecological relationships to bear on his various research projects.

Jules Reynolds

Geography, Environment and Resources

Jules is a PhD student in geography and environment and resources. She is interested in the political ecology of maize in Malawi and exploring agroecological movements through a multispecies ethnography lens. Jules completed her MS in agroecology at UW-Madison, and is a member of The LAND (Livelihoods, Agroecology, Nutrition, and Development) Project on campus.

Anika Rice


Anika Rice is a graduate student in geography studying agroecology, gender and migration in a changing climate. She received her BA in geography from UC Berkeley in 2014 and has since worked as a feminist outdoor educator and farm curriculum writer in the Bay Area. In 2016 she completed a project titled “Migration, Women and Coffee Production: Changing roles on Guatemalan and Nicaraguan farms” as a National Geographic Early Career Grantee. In her free time she enjoys weaving, fermenting, and learning about the plant world.

Becky Rose

Geography and Environment and Resources

Becky Rose is a PhD student in geography and the Nelson Institute. She studies urban climate change adaptation, specifically addressing increasing extreme heat: what people are doing in cities to combat the urban heat island effect and save lives during heat emergencies, crucial steps in climate planning, what is missing, and what is needed to make the planning and implementation process more inclusive, just, and effective.

She earned a BS in geology from Brown University and enjoys teaching physical geography, especially about deep time and what has taken place during Earth’s multibillion-year history.

Nicolas Felipe Rueda Rey


Nicolas Felipe Rueda Rey is a Colombian PhD student in history who works from an environmental perspective and historical anthropology approach. His project studies industrial capitalism and the way it transforms practices, representations, and landscapes in the rural and urban areas in the Colombian Andes mountains, through the case of tobacco commodity and in a global and transnational dimension.

Sahil Sasidharan


Sahil Sasidharan is a doctoral student in geography. He is an urban geographer linking critical property studies, agrarian urbanisms, critical posthumanism and new materialism to interrogate spatial planning’s enduring technologies of futurity and concomitant modes of racialization in India. His doctoral research understands the conjunction of liberal and biological epistemes in contemporary property-making practices at Delhi’s urban frontiers, where rural land and wayward life at the margins are biopolitically transformed into racialized regimes of urban property and differentiated socio-material and spatiotemporal orders.

Sahil is affiliated with the Centre for South Asia and the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies.

Debo Sen


Debopam (Debo) Sen calls Kolkata and Madison home as of now and has also spent some months studying in Reims, France. He studied history in his undergraduate and master’s, which he completed at Presidency University, Kolkata, India. His inclination toward education and schooling found space in his BA and MA dissertations, where he tried to triangulate his research within public science education in colonial India, issues of national development, and the birth of a postcolonial democracy.

Besides his academic interests, Debo is also passionate about a few other things: biking and food. He is also a dog lover and can be found at most doggo gatherings.

Max Shafer-Landau

Curriculum and Instruction

Max Shafer-Landau is a former high school history teacher and current PhD student in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. His main focus is on using historical simulations as an interdisicplinary foundation to teach other subjects in a contextualized, interconnected, and fun way. Previous to UW-Madison, he earned a BA in history and classical civilizations at Wesleyan University and an MA in European and Russian studies from Yale.

Gabriel Shapiro

Geography and Environment and Resources

Gabriel Shapiro is a graduate student in geography and environment and resources. He is a member of the energy analysis and policy certificate program. He received a BA in environmental studies from Ithaca College in 2018. His research looks at energy justice in the U.S., with a particular focus on shifting regulatory and financial structures, regional energy planning, grid decentralization, and community autonomy.

Kassia Shaw


Kassia Shaw is a PhD student in composition and rhetoric. Her research interests consider how place-based environmental narratives simultaneously reflect and shape identity, especially within cultural and social justice contexts. How can writing about nature change our perception of ourselves and our world? Who is excluded or erased from these conversations, and to what effect? Can writing environmental narratives heal the body? She is further interested in ways that indigenous spaces shape the literacies of ongoing colonization narratives within medicine, science and technology. She holds a BA and MA in English from DePaul University in Chicago.

Clare Sullivan


Clare Sullivan is a PhD student in the Department of Geography and studies agricultural change and drivers of tropical deforestation. She is interested in mixed-methods approaches to understanding complex socioecological systems. Her dissertation will focus on the impact of different climate governance policies on landscapes and farmers in Colombia. She holds a master’s in international affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

Ruth Trumble


I am a PhD student in geography with interests in political geography, feminist theory, and people-environment relations. My research explores the relationship between environmental disasters and peace-building initiatives in post-conflict areas. My previous research examined the agency of artists who create art outside of global art market demands.

Maria Tsoy

Asian Languages and Cultures

Maria Tsoy is a PhD candidate at the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, specializing at Japanese literature and visual culture. Her dissertation project explores the impact of urbanization on visual and spatial perception and literacy practices in early modern Japan.

Nguyen Vuong

Agricultural and Applied Economics

Nguyen Vuong is a PhD student at the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics from the central coast of Vietnam. He is interested in environmental issues in developing countries. He is currently studying the long-term impact of Agent Orange sprayed during the Vietnam War on the current population.

Calla Ward Olson

Environment and Resources

Calla M. Ward Olson (she/her/hers) is a PhD student in environment and resources, and a lifelong student of the prairies of the Midwest. Her interests include prairie ecology, the relationships between Native and non-Native communities and grasslands, the responses of grassland systems to climate change, and the decolonization of conservation and land stewardship.

Her current research combines paleoecology, historical ecology, Indigenous knowledge, and human history to examine the relationships between climate, vegetation, and people in the tallgrass aspen parklands region of northwest Minnesota and southern Manitoba since its formation, and how this information might be used to mitigate the impacts of climate change and restore Indigenous rights and lifeways to this landscape.

Steffenie Widows

Environment and Resources

Steffenie Widows (she/her) is a doctoral student in the environment and resources program at the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. She is also pursuing a minor in East Asian studies. Her research focuses on crane conservation issues in Korea. She is particularly interested in the human dimensions of international wildlife conservation. She holds a BA in environmental studies from Rollins College in Florida and an MS in conservation biology and sustainable development from UW–Madison.

Meg Wilson

Art History, Studio Art

Meg Wilson (they/she) is a PhD student in art history and an MFA student in studio art. Meg’s research interests include photography, performance, and ecological art in the Anthropocene, with a focus on de-colonial, queer aesthetics, and human relation with the more-than-human. Meg holds a BA in art history with minors in Appalachian studies and sculpture and intermedia from Berea College in Kentucky.

Richelle Wilson

German, Nordic, and Slavic

Richelle Wilson is a PhD candidate in the Department of German, Nordic, and Slavic at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Her dissertation is an interdisciplinary analysis of IKEA as a site of Swedish nationalism and her broad research interests include contemporary literature and film, labor studies, and public humanities. She is the Edge Effects managing editor and works as a podcast producer (Collegeland), talk radio producer (WORT-FM 89.9), and freelance academic editor.

Pearly Wong

Anthropology, Environment and Resources

Pearly Wong is a Fulbright grantee and a Joint PhD student with the Department of Anthropology and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. Prior to coming to Madison, she has worked with grass-root organizations and UN agencies in projects of non-formal education, sustainable housing and climate change adaptation with communities in Nepal, Cameroon, Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

With a background in international development, her current interest is on what constitute environmental justice for communities in different ecological and political economy contexts. She is also an avid traveler with experiences in 40 countries.

Nathan Wood


Nathan Wood is a PhD student in English who situates his work at the intersection of rhetoric, ecology, and religion. His dissertation considers spiritual environmentalism in Utah since 1980, a form of activism that sees ecological vibrance as a quasi-divine call to which the only adequate response is political activism. He hopes to understand what resources spirituality affords understanding ethical and responsible approaches to political ecology.

Gabriela Yepes-Rossel

Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies

Gabriela is a theater and film writer, director, researcher, and a third-year PhD student in interdisciplinary theatre studies at UW–Madison. In her creative and scholarly work, Gabriela has explored topics of gender, memory, and traditional performance. Her latest theater play, “The Therapist,” an exploration of the effects of structural and gendered violence on women in post-war Peru, won the 2017 Sala de Parto Playwriting Award and the 2020 Luces Award for Best Peruvian Playwright. Gabriela is currently researching the Andean drama and performance from a gendered and decolonial perspective.

Garret Zastoupil

Civil Society and Community Studies

Garret is a PhD student in the School of Human Ecology: Civil Society and Community Research. His research focuses on how rural community-based organizations can use knowledge production and partnerships with colleges and universities to create social change and self-determination. His teaching and research interests led him to engage with the Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies, the Morgridge Center for Public Service, and the American Indian Studies Program.

Luyi Zeng

Environment and Resources

Luyi Zeng is a PhD student in the Nelson Institute’s environment and resources program. She earned an MS in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics. She obtained a bachelor’s degree of economics and a bachelor’s degree of arts in China. In her free time, she enjoys skiing, hiking, and playing board games with friends.

Matthew Zinsli

International Development Studies

Matthew J. Zinsli is a PhD candidate in the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology and the International Development Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His research explores place-based food networks, rural development, and scientific discourses, expertise, and practices in international development projects.